Image from "Inside Outside Upside Down" originally published 1968
Like many of you, I grew up with books featuring the Berenstain Bears. Stan and Jan Berenstain created this successful line of children's books that have influenced generations. Jan Berenstain passed away on February 24, 2012, at the age of 88. Stan preceded her in death in 2005.
Jan Grant was born on July 26, 1923. She met future husband Stan Berenstain at the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art in 1941. During World War II, Jan worked as a draftswoman for the Army Corps. of Engineers and as an aircraft riveter. She and Stan married in 1946, and published their first children's book in 1951.
Image from "He Bear, She Bear" published in 1974
The Berenstains' stories were simple and focused on family experiences. However, the books also delved into topics appropriate for the time. In "He Bear, She Bear" Brother Bear and Sister Bear explore a wide variety of careers, summing up with "We can do all these things, you see, whether we are he or she." Books like this helped children see beyond gender and tradition when considering their future education and employment, and opened up a wonderful range of possibilities.
Image from "The Day of the Dinosaur," 1987
"The Day of the Dinosaur" was published a few years before my own budding paleontologists were born. As we have culled picture books from our shelves, this is one that remains. Children fascinated with dinosaurs love the colorful illustrations and simple text in this book. We have read it many, many times.
Cover of "The Messy Room," 1983
And of course, we used Berenstain Bears books to deal with family issues throughout the years, whether it was greedy requests at the store or cleaning a messy room. I am grateful to Stan and Jan Berenstain for years of creative, charming works that spanned generations and were warm, funny stories to share as a family.
Thanks for the memories, Jan! You will be missed.